When news spread via the trades this week that Warner Bros. had commissioned writer Michael Goldenberg to pen the script for the sequel to GREEN LANTERN
, a film that is still 10 months shy of its release date, fan reaction was mixed. For some, the confidence was exciting and infectious while others were concerned and left wondering…
“What’s the rush?”
My take: “Why wait?”
There is nothing wrong with a studio planning for success and that’s exactly what WB is doing with the Green Lantern franchise. Principal photography ended last week and while the film is far from finished (there will be extensive post-production), the studio has a pretty good idea of what they have on their hands right now. Sure, they don’t have any box office receipts or audience reaction, but the executives down in Burbank have been around long enough to know a hit when they see one.
Co-producer and famed DCU scribe Geoff Johns has previously called Green Lantern the STAR WARS of the DCU and he’s right. This is a franchise with amazing potential on both cinematic and monetary levels. A trilogy is planned, but there’s enough juice in the source material to generate six films, at least.
Keep in mind, Hal Jordan is A Green Lantern, not THE Green Lantern. He’s not even the only Green Lantern from Earth! There is an epic story to be told beginning with next June and WB is preparing accordingly.
For those concerned about WB being in too much of a hurry, what is WB actually rushing? It’s not like they’re bringing the whole cast back down to New Orleans to shoot GL2 next week. WB is simply getting a script ready based on a treatment that they already have.
For a moment, let’s envision the worst case scenario and say that GREEN LANTERN, despite all its promise and potential, flops next year. We’ll assume - for the sake of argument -- that critics, fanboys, and mainstream audiences all dislike the film and there is no desire at all for a sequel. As horrible (and unlikely) as that scenario sounds, WB’s loss would be minimal. They would have commissioned a writer to pen a script for a movie that will never be made, but that’s hardly an unusual occurrence in the film industry. WB obviously isn’t afraid of the risk. This is the same studio that bought a script and even had an entire cast and crew ready and waiting in Australia to shoot (thankfully) never made JUSTICE LEAGUE: MORTAL.
The truth is, by betting on the success of GREEN LANTERN, WB isn’t rushing. The studio is giving the creative team the time it needs to put together a great story worthy of being filmed.
The alternative is to make a hurried effort to hire a scribe after a big opening weekend at the box office. Before praising that plan, however, examine recent history with Marvel Studios’ IRON MAN franchise.
When IRON MAN launched to rave reviews and box office success in May 2008, Marvel quickly scrambled to make sure they could have a sequel out in two years. They got their wish, releasing IRON MAN 2 earlier this year. But the majority opinion from critics and fans has been that the sequel did not match the quality of its predecessor. Marvel would likely have been better off had they placed their finger on the pulse and felt the momentum that was swelling for the first film prior to its release and green lighting ahead of time. There was no need to wait, as IRON MAN looked and felt like a hit from the first time footage was shown at Comic Con 2007.
By getting the script ready now, WB is taking the three-year approach that has worked so well for the Batman franchise without actually taking three years between films. With the Batman franchise, the first year after a film is released has been devoted to writing the story and script while the second and third years are spent on pre-production, filming, post-production, and marketing (with an extra year thrown in this time so director Christopher Nolan could make his original masterpiece INCEPTION).
WB’s confidence in GREEN LANTERN is allowing them to get that first year in the creative process completed ahead of time so that they can still move at their slow and steady pace and have a GL sequel ready to go in 2013. The studio could conceivably speed things up a bit and have GL2 ready to go for 2012 (which has been rumored), but their plate looks a little full that year with Chris Nolan’s third Batman film in July and the Superman reboot in December.
Any fear that looking ahead toward a sequel will create a loss of focus on the first film prior to its completion is unnecessary, and frankly, silly. Michael Goldenberg’s work on GREEN LANTERN is done, so he’d be moving on to another project right now whether it’s GL2 or something else. I’m sure director Martin Campbell is deeply entrenched in the first film and his focus is right where it needs to be. It’s not as though WB is asking him to work on the sequel right now.
The Green Lantern franchise is a pivotal one for WB. With the HARRY POTTER franchise ending and the BATMAN franchise soon entering a period of transition, the studio needs another property to step up and carry the torch for the first half of this new decade, perhaps beyond. Clearly, WB feels DC’s Green Lantern can and will be that franchise. With that confidence, they are taking a reasonable, calculated risk by beginning early preparations for a second film.
Warner Bros. is banking on a “bright day” for GREEN LANTERN.
Their optimism will be rewarded.